Metalachi band draws true fans to Mid-Winter Fair

Stephanie Flores (second from right) sings with the Metalachi band Friday evening in the grandstand at California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta in Imperial.
Friday, March 3, 2017

IMPERIAL — Bespectacled Stephanie Flores squinted as powerful spot lights focused on her with the Metalachi band singers surrounding her on the California Mid-Winter Fair stage.

“It was awesome but I was super nervous. I loved it. It was awesome,” Flores said about her experience singing “More Than Words” along with Metalachi.

Flores had traveled about an hour’s drive from Yuma to watch the band at the fairgrounds. She was accompanied by her boyfriend and his brother and her mother. They didn’t sit in the grandstand, but chose to stand by the fence about 20 feet from the stage right in front of the sound box.

There were other Metalachi fans squeezing to get closer to the fence. A child, about the same height as the fence, tiptoed to get a better view. Some fans had cups of beer which they tried balancing as they sang with the band, swaying their hands and bodies with the rhythm of the upbeat song. Others used cell phones to take photos and video.

The Metalachi band’s costumes and make-up were a mixture of heavy metal groups and traditional Mexican mariachis.

Lead singer Vega De La Rockha introduced the songs they were going to perform, while El Cucuy, with his overflowing white hair, black and white stage make-up, and leather clothes, played the trumpet. Fans throughout the grandstand cheered with delight.

During the second half of the two-hour concert, the band asked the audience to raise their hands if it was their first time watching them perform.

Flores expectantly raised her hand. She was chosen and eventually called upstage as the crowd cheered in response. She was guided towards a chair on center stage. On cue, Metalachi began singing “More Than Words,” unaware that Flores knew the song by heart. She sang word for word with them, squinting once in a while because of the bright spotlights.

“It was funny,” Flores recalled later. “I didn’t know what to do because you can’t really see because it’s so bright up there. You can’t see anything in front of you. The lights were blinding me a little bit,” she admitted.

But that did not seem to matter to her. After all, she said this was a dream come true. Three years ago, her cousin in Redlands had told Flores about Metalachi and she was immediately drawn to the band and began following them on Facebook.

“I’ve been wanting to see them so bad,” Flores said. “Then, I saw them on Facebook and I came here.”

Flores said this was her first time to watch Metalachi live and the first time also to be called on stage to sing with them. She giggled as she told The Desert Review of her experience. “It was awesome.”

On the opposite side of where Flores stood along the fence were the McPhetrige family from Brawley. Kyle McPhetrige was seen carrying his 18-month-old daughter and father and daughter danced with the music.

McPhetrige said about Isabella, “She was into it, dancing and watching all the band members play their instruments.”

A Metallica fan, McPhetrige brought his family to the concert after learning Metalachi was going to perform the first night. This was his third time to watch the band perform. “They get the crowd going. They did some Metallica and it sounded very good,” he said.

His wife, Claudia, held on to their daughter’s stroller and commented about the music. “It was funny, but at the same time it was good music. I enjoyed the mix of metal music and mariachi,” said Claudia.

According to Joe Montenegro, president of the Imperial Valley Expo board, this is the fourth time Metalachi has performed at the fair. They agreed to return as a consistent crowd pleaser.

“Everybody told us to bring them back,” Montenegro said. He estimated the crowd to be about 1,700 with full grandstand seating capacity at 2,500. He said the turnout was “excellent.”

The question remains if Metalachi will come back again next year?

“I think it wouldn’t to take too much effort to ask for a fifth time to come back,” said Montenegro. “But we have to think about it. We have to be sure that we get a variety of acts and a variety of music. But they did a great job. And they are always so accommodating. When they get through they come and mix with the public.”